Members are asked to note that, in light of the very recent changes to Portfolio Holder remits, a decision has been taken on this occasion to only include information about Environmental Services in this Portfolio Holder report to Council. Further information about Community Safety will be provided in a separate Portfolio Holder report to Council later in the year.
Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item; no longer than 10 minutes for presentation of the report and then up to 3 minutes for each question to be put and answered.
Council received a report concerning the work that had been undertaken by the authority within the remit of the Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Community Safety. The Chairman advised that, due to the recent changes to Portfolio remits amongst members of the Cabinet, a decision had been taken to only present information in respect of Environmental Services at this stage. A further Portfolio Holder report would follow later in the year on the subject of Community Safety.
The Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Community Safety presented the report and in so doing highlighted the following points for Members’ consideration:
· Staff employed at the depot had worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to ensure the continuation of service delivery. The Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Community Safety thanked them for their hard work at this difficult time.
· The Council was working closely with Wyre Forest District Council in respect of tackling fly tipping and taking legal action against people who committed fly tipping.
· There had been an increase in the overall tonnage of waste collected during the pandemic. This was primarily due to the fact that more people had been working from home and so the rubbish that would usually have been disposed of at work was being placed in residential bins.
· There had been an increase in the amount of items placed in recycling bins that had been rejected at the Envirosort facility. However, the proportion of items that were rejected out of the total number of items recycled was broadly similar to previous years, at 14 per cent.
· Nationally, there was a rejection rate in respect of articles placed in recycling bins of between 5 and 25 per cent.
· The costs of handling items that had been rejected at Envirosort were covered by Worcestershire County Council as the Waste Disposal Authority for the county.
During consideration of this item the following issues relating to Environmental Services were debated by Members:
· The action that was being taken to prosecute people who committed fly tipping and the extent to which the Council could publicise this action in order to deter other people from fly tipping. Members were advised that those found guilty of fly tipping would be named and shamed. This action had already started to have a positive impact, with the number of reported offences having declined from 196 in January 2020 to 60 in January 2022.
· The reasons why an external energy savings consultant had been used to review arrangements for procuring a new, decarbonised fleet and the potential for an outline report on this subject to be circulated for Members’ consideration. The Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Community Safety requested that this question be put to her in writing and explained that a response would then be provided in writing. Members were asked to note that decarbonisation of the Council fleet had been discussed at a recent meeting of the Climate Change Working Group.
· The number of staff working at the depot who had received training to secure an HGV driving license. Members were advised that three members of staff had received training and there were other members of staff who already had an HGV driving license. It was confirmed that opportunities to obtain an HGV driving license were provided to staff in the waste collection team.
· The report in respect of water course maintenance referenced in the update. The Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Community Safety confirmed that this report would be shared with Councillor R. Hunter, Chairman of the Flooding Task Group. Members were also advised that this report would be pre-scrutinised at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
· The possible changes that might be required to the Garden Waste Collection service, subject to forthcoming legislative changes that were being considered by the Government, and the potential for an update to be provided to Members on this subject as soon as possible.
· The relatively quick timescales in which staff acted to address reports of fly tipping in the District.
· The successful partnership bid with Wyre Forest District Council to the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for support for landowners dealing with fly tipping on their land and the potential for information about this scheme to be shared with Members. Council was informed that it might be possible to share information on this subject at a later date.
· The potential for the Garden Waste Collection Service to be extended to operate for a longer period of time in the year. Members commented that the service had been provided in different months during the pandemic and it was noted that Members had received favourable feedback about this approach to service delivery from many residents. The Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Community Safety commented that Officers would be asked to investigate this matter further.
· The recent reports in the local press about items being placed in the recycling bins that could not be recycled and the financial costs associated with this. Members commented that often people placed items in recycling bins because they thought they could be recycled and it was important to note that Bromsgrove District Council did not need to cover the costs in these circumstances, because this was the responsibility of Worcestershire County Council.
· The information that was provided to the public on Bromsgrove District Council’s website regarding the items that could be recycled and those articles that would be rejected, such as black plastic.
· The recent issues that had been reported in parts of the District, whereby some customers using the Garden Waste Collection service had received two bills for the service. Council was informed that two bills had been issued in error and had later been recalled. Customers had been sent updated invoices and an apology for the error.
· The increase in the tonnage of waste that had been reported in Bromsgrove District during the pandemic. Members were informed that this was consistent with increases nationally during the period.